Question Time – jobs package
Mr PITT (Hinkler) (15:09): My question is to the Assistant Minister for Employment. Will the minister update the House on measures in the budget to support young job seekers, particularly through the national work experience program and the national wage subsidy pool? Are there any alternative views on the value of work experience?
Mr HARTSUYKER (Cowper—Deputy Leader of the House and Assistant Minister for Employment) (15:09): I thank the member for Hinkler for his question. Earlier this week, I informed the House of our national work experience program and the new, more flexible, $1.2 billion wage subsidy program to help young people move from welfare into work—great new measures supported by ACOSS, supported by ACCI and supported by the Brotherhood of St Laurence. In my answer in question time earlier this week, I also informed the House of Labor’s lack of policy, regrettably, in relation to youth unemployment—to the point where the Leader of the Opposition, in his budget reply speech, did not even mention the issue of youth unemployment. So we can see that, in the so-called ‘year of the big idea’, the sum total of their thoughts on youth unemployment is a $20 million pilot program.
I further regret having to advise the House that yesterday the opposition leader’s puppet-masters, the ACTU, came out against work experience. They came out against work experience. That is despite the fact that young people are saying that their greatest barrier to getting into work is a lack of experience. That is despite the fact that employers are saying that they want to see people with experience presenting at the gates of their businesses. We know that work experience can help young people get into work. In fact, Labor had a limited work experience policy when they were in government. But we have the ACTU opposing this.
Unfortunately, the ACTU and Labor are also against Work for the Dole. We know Work for the Dole can give young people the skills to help them on their journey from welfare into work. I know the member for Robertson appreciates the value of Work for the Dole: a constituent in the good member’s electorate who was unemployed for 291 weeks got a job after work experience in the Work for the Dole program. The member for Leichhardt understands the importance of Work for the Dole: one of his constituents, unemployed for 395 weeks, moved into paid employment after doing a Work for the Dole placement. That shows the potential that Work for the Dole has to help people into work.
We are about getting young people into work. Good-quality work experience through Work for the Dole placements can assist in doing that. We are about solutions to the issues facing young people trying to get into work. The Leader of the Opposition could not even bother to mention it in his budget reply speech.
Mr Abbott: Madam Speaker, after 25 very well answered questions, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.